Folivores – birds that feed on leaves

posted in: Feeding-plants | 1

Cheong Weng Chun sent me an image of a juvenile Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) with a bunch of young rain tree (Samanea saman) leaflets in its beak. And in his own words, the bird was: “chewing – no, can it chew or perhaps, I should say swallow?”

This started me asking a pertinent question “Do birds eat leave?” Well, some birds do… Anyway, I ended up with some interesting information.

Folivory applies to those birds that eat leaves, either exclusively or partially. Although a successful foraging strategy for numerous species, few birds are exclusively folivorous. Why? Because flight demands an enormous amount of energy and leaves do not provide the necessary energy. The energy content of leaves is only half that of fruits and a quarter that of insects and other arthropods. Also, leaf digestion is slow and requires a large storage space in the gut. Besides, digestion needs to be undertaken by specialized bacteria present in the gut

Those birds that regularly feed on leaves have thus turned to gliding or abandoned flight altogether.

Only about 3% of all birds, from at least 14 families, eat leaves regularly. Most of these birds are terrestrial or aquatic and only 5 families include aboreal members. From these 5 families only 2 species, Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) and Owl Parrot (Strigops habroptilus) obtain most of their energy from leaves. These include new growth of green leaves, buds, flowers and fruits in season, moss and fungi. Hoatzin is a South American bird whose flight is weak and awkward. It clumsily creeps up branches and make only short flights. The other is a flightless bird of New Zealand.

R. Subaraj notes that certain birds offer leaves during courtship, but we have an immature bird here. So does it mean that its behaviour is precocious?

Image by Cheong Weng Chun

Anting III

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 0

Now that anting has been unleashed onto the birding community, more episodes are being reported. This posting gives the third and fourth accounts after Kelvin’s historic observation 17 years ago, followed by Jeremy’s.

R. Subaraj, our bird specialist and nature consultant, relates his experience: “When I was at the National University of Singapore campus in Kent Ridge on November 25th, 2005, I noticed a solitary Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) approaching me not far from the Science Canteen. As it walked toward me, it picked up something from the ground and put it 5nder its wing. I kept observing it carefully and the next time it did the same thing. I suddenly realised that it was a kerengga ant (Oecophylla samargdina) that it was stuffing under the wing.

“Immediately remembering what Kelvin had seen not far from where I was 17 years ago, I continued observing it. The bird was deliberately searching for more krenggas in the grass, along the drain and even in the drain. Each one it caught was quickly stuffed under the wing as well, occasionally with a little dance to follow.

“Another myna, another anting session!”

Margie Hall relates her story: “I recently found my 1989 notebook and can give you two more brief accounts of anting: March 9th, 1989, 2 pm, White-vented Myna picking up red kerengga ants one by one (7 in all)kand putting them in underparts and in wing feathers. May 9th, 1989 White-vented Mynas ‘anting’ with red kerengga ants. Note: White-vented Myna probably means Javan Myna – I think I was using the names interchangeably in those days.”

NOTE: This and earlier accounts of anting posted on this website have now been written up and published in the 2008 issue of the on-line journal, Nature in Singapore (Vol. 1, pp. 23-25). A PDF copy of Anting in Singapore Birds is available HERE.

Angie’s nesting crows – 1. A nest in the making

posted in: Nests | 1

A pair of House Crows (Corvus splendens) started building a nest on 19th December 2005 in an angsana tree (Pterocarpus indicus) just outside my apartment window. The day before they were building another nest on the far side of the tree. Unfortunately it disappeared overnight, probably foiled by strong wind during the night. They appeared to have succeeded now, as they were still building it on the second day. I hope the nest remains.

Even as the nest was just only a dozen or so twigs propped across the forked branches, a female Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) had made a quick inspection when the crows were away.

Both crows were equally involved in collecting and arranging the twigs for the nest. With sunbirds and flowerpeckers, the males merely accompany their mates and just hang around, never helping in wool collecting.

Yesterday, the nest looked like an untidy collection of dry twigs, with a few green leaves added. Today it looks more compact and increasingly I have difficulty seeing what they were doing when both happened to be behind that nest. This morning they were still compacting the nest with more twigs. Sometimes they arrived without any twigs but took turns or even together shifting twigs around the nest. Will they be bringing ‘fibrous’ materials tomorrow to line the inner cup?

I wonder where they got their materials from? They don’t seem to just pick up the fallen twigs from under the tree.

These crows appear to be loving birds, always standing close, ‘kissing’ each other and one was seen feeding the other, although I could not see what was passed from one beak into the other’s throat.

The image of nest was taken at 4.45 pm today.

Contributed by Angie Ng, 21st December 2005

Feeding protocol among some common birds

posted in: Feeding strategy | 0

K.F. Yap’s notes that there seems to be a kind of unwritten ‘pecking order’ among the common birds around us when they feed, see also The ubiquitous Javan Myna. Whenever cleaners remove refuse, Javan Mymas (Acridotheres javanicus) , being most bold and aggressive, would be the first to feed, even when people are around. House Crows (Corvus splendens), although they are larger and more aggressive, usually stay back as they are shy of people. The crows would come to feed after the cleaners have moved away, during which time the mynas would also have moved on.

He also observed that whenever his neighbours threw stale bread and rice out of the backyard windows to feed the birds, the pigeons would come first, then the mynas and finally the crows. The crows would then rob the pigeons and mynas of their food, he concluded.

Intrigued by his account, I hung out a bunch of ripe bananas on a low branch in my garden. Interestingly, Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) were the first to arrive. They would perch on the bunch and feed on the ripe bananas. Only when the bananas fell to the ground would the Javan Mynas congregating below move in to feed. There would be tussles between rival pairs of mynas fighting to be the first to feed. Invariably every bird had an opportunity to feed. This is because of their method of feeding – making a quick move towards the fruits and taking a chunk to move away to feed. This allows others to move in.

I am surprised that the bulbuls were left in peace up on the banana bunch as on the ground, the mynas would always chase them away. Is this niche feeding? Are mynas ground feeders? Do they find it difficult to feed perching on the bunch?

According to R. Subaraj, mynas are primarily ground feeders though they will feed on fruits in trees where they can perch comfortably adjacent to the fruit itself.

YC Wee with KF Yap & R Subaraj
21st December 2005

Anting II

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 0

I have kept several mynas in my lifetime. One of these was a male Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) that I rescued from the cat as it landed on the ground during his maiden flight. This bird accompanied me almost everyday afternoons and evenings when I patrolled the condo looking for some animal or insect to observe.

At a very young age (it was still begging for food), the bird enjoyed a good bath, splashing water with its wings. That was when I placed him in the sink together with the ice cream box in which it was kept, and slowly ran the tap, intending to wash the tub and at the same time give the bird his first bath. But before I could do anything, he instinctively reacted to the water flowing beneath his feet. He dunked his chest in the water and splattered water all over the toilet. So much for bathing 101, this candidate was earmarked for direct PhD in bathing. Eventually I even placed him in a tub of water that was so deep that only his head was above the water level. The lure of a good bath never stopped him. But he was very cautious with water levels more than 3 inches deep.

We used to patrol the greenery around the condo together for his evening snacks. Anything I chased out from the grass, he would grab and eat it. Whenever there were other mynas around he would start a fight. With my help he would invariably win. One evening, he happened to walk over an ant mound. Initially intrigued by the ants, he later found them to be foul tasting and started to attack them. The ants responded by mobbing him and crawling all over his feathers. I had seen many young birds killed by ants and was a little concerned by the increasing number of ants crawling onto him. But as much as I tried to discourage him from mucking around with the ants, he kept at it, to stupidly stand right on top of the mound. His behaviour took me by surprise. Intermittent between his initial actions of attacking the ants, he suddenly prostrated himself on the ground, spread his wings and puffed up his plumage. I had thought that he had a few ant bites too many and was getting injured. But he appeared absolutely fine. So I stood by and observed for a while. After about two minutes of intense ‘anting’ he suddenly moved away from the ant mound and preened itself to get rid of the ants. All of a sudden his intense interest with the ant mound vanished and we were back looking for tasty afternoon snacks.

After that he would regular ‘ant’ itself once a week or less, probably because I gave him a daily bath.

The fact that this bird had never observed another ‘anting’ but seemed to know what to do with ants points in the fact that this behaviour seems to be innate, although wild birds seem to do it more professionally. My little ‘Sidewinder’, as I called him, apparently had some ideas of what ‘anting’ was all about, hard coded in his brain.

Contributed by Jeremy Lee

Javan Myna hunted by an Accipitrid

posted in: Feeding-vertebrates, Raptors | 1

Because of the outbreaks of avian flu around the region, everyone is nervous when encountering a dead bird. Thus when John Lynn’s daughter saw a dead bird in her garden, she was naturally nervous and called her father at work.

Lying in what John described as his “bird friendly” garden was the carcass of a bird with its feathers scattered around. Its guts were missing. It must have been quite a sight to witness a bird butchered thus. The father pacified the daughter explaining that it must have been a “hawk kill” and not to worry about it.

A few moments later she again phoned John, this time in panic. Apparently the hunter had returned to finish off its prey. Sensing the unfolding of an exciting drama, he again pacified her and told her to get hold of the camera and record the event. This she did. The bird was very protective of its prey, spreading out its wings in anger when she got too near. It took an entire hour for the bird to finish off its prey, leaving nothing except feathers.

Although the jury is still out, the general agreement is that the bird is an accipitrid, either a juvenile Japanese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter gularis) or a Besra (A. virgatus), the latter being a rare migrant to Singapore.

These birds usually hunt small passerines, relying on the element of surprise to catch their preys. The bird may wait, hidden in a tree, to suddenly dart forth at a passing bird. It kills its prey mostly using its feet and talons.

Image by John Lynn.

Mobbing of predator birds

posted in: Crows, Interspecific | 5

Many species of birds exhibit ‘mobbing’ tendencies, especially when they find predator birds resting alone or in small groups. Even those that are predominantly scavengers or fish-eaters are similarly mobbed. Such harassing behaviour is aimed at driving the predators off and in most cases they succeed. Mobbing is more pronounced if there is nesting involved, especially if eggs or young are present.

It is a common sight around Singapore to watch House Crows (Corvus splendens) flying after and driving off resident and migratory raptors of any species. I have personally seen Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus), Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus), White-bellied Fish-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), Oriental Honey-Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), Changeable Hawk-eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus) and many other species being mobbed. House Crows do this individually or in a group, within and above their territories. Dr Wu Eu Heng has also reported seeing House Crows mobbing a Changeable Hawk-eagle around Jurong. Other bird species such as Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) and Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) also mob raptors in flight.

At many nature areas, particularly wooded areas, you often come across a party of highly agitated birds noisily moving around a tree or bush. Usually, this indicates the presence of a predator. In most cases this would either be an owl or a snake and the birds will both mob and scold in an aggressive manner. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradisus) and Striped Tit-babblers (Macronus gularis) are often involved in such behaviour in the local forests.

Mobbing birds may comprise one or more species. It is a great opportunity to not only observe the irritated flock but to discover an usually illusive predator. I have seen some great snakes and owls in this manner. For example, the first Barred Eagle Owl (Bubo sumatranus) that I encountered in Malaysia was one that was being mobbed by a few bird species, including the Asian Fairy-Bluebird (Irena puella).

I am sure many birders would have encountered instances of mobbing and we would love to read about some of their accounts.

R Subaraj & Dr Wu Eu Heng
16th December 2005

More on Javan Mynas

posted in: Species | 3

The Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) is a rather interesting bird despite it being an exotic species. But we must all agree that there is still a lot that we do not know of this bird, however frequent it is sighted. See also earlier post.

Back down the years, my father saw gangs of these mynas fighting. Each group comprised of up to 20 individuals. The fight was even more peculiar. Two birds would clasp their claws together and engaged in a frenzy of beating wing and wild pecking. My father had personally seen them so engrossed with their fight that a passing van made roadkill of them.

“Gang fights” were often to the death. These were one-on-one battles where each member of a gang took on another from the other gang, instead of a wild 4-5 mobbing a single bird. And only one myna of the fighting pair walked away alive.

I myself have seen milder versions of such fights. It involved small leaps, accompanied by flapping of wings to prolong time in the air, and a brandishing of claws. This was usually enough to send a weaker opponent away. I have seen this in foraging mynas. One individual, probably a misfit, was constantly chased away by one individual of a group. Usually, the myna that was chased away picked another foraging spot.

From all this, it is easy to conclude that they have very complex social behaviour. And if so, how do they find mates? I have read that a myna mates for life, one reason why most of them forage in pairs. But if so, would a gang have an even number of individuals, made up of many of such pairs? Or would it comprise separate individuals with no sexual relationship to the others?

Territorial behaviour of mynas is of course more than just fights, there could be some kind of warning first. I often see the birds performing a kind of head movement. The myna would ruffle up its feathers (probably to make itself look bigger to opponents), and start bobbing its head up and down, which is sometimes accompanied by a shrill or a single call that is repeated. I have no idea if this is territorial behaviour, because I have also observed mynas that became violent without prior warning. Worse still, whenever I spot a myna performing the “head-bob”, I rarely see any other mynas around.

I also start to wonder whether only the male does it. I observed one of a myna pair near the edge of the road performing the “head-bob”. After it was done, the other myna beside it started to do the same. If it was a pair of one male and one female (life mates), then I can be sure that both sexes perform it and territory (if it was territorial in the first place) was “held on” by both members of the pair.

Can anyone shed some light to the above?

Contributed by Lim Jun Ying, a young birder with an inquiring mind

Comments by our bird specialist, R. Subaraj: Gang fights by Javan Mynas can indeed be pretty vicious and they are oblivious to nearly everything around when they are engaged in battle. Fights are often between separate packs, two pairs or sometimes, they seem to attack one particular individual. After it is over, it is not uncommon to find feathers everywhere and sometimes a wing as well. As for the headbobbing and ruffling of head feathers, here is a subject for study to determine the actual reasons behind it. It certainly looks like irritation and I have observed mynas ruffling their head feathers and muttering in their own language at me!

The ubiquitous Javan Myna

posted in: Species | 8

The Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus), formerly known as White-vented Myna, was brought into Singapore around 1920. Since then it has become very successful, especially in urban areas. The aggressive nature of this introduced myna has successfully displaced the once common Common Myna (A. tristis). Margie Hall laments the fact that back in the 1990s she used to see a group of up to ten Common Mynas by the beach at Sembawang Park, but for the last five or six years she only saw a couple or couple and immatures. And around Singapore she wonders whether anyone has ever seen more than a couple.

Indeed, the Javan Myna is extremely adaptable in terms of food and breeding sites. Our bird specialist, R. Subaraj, reports that it wakes up well before other birds to feast on road kills along our expressways. S.K. Kwan mentions that some 11 years ago she saw a myna making its nest slotted between the wall and the building signage at Magazine Road. They usually nest in the eves of house, as Margie rightly points out. She further adds: “They are seen going in and out the holes between beams in the above ground MRT line at Sembawang.”

My experience with this myna is in my garden. Whenever I do weeding, turn the compost or repot root-bound plants, there will always be at least one pair following me. Apparently these birds take the opportunity to catch insects and other invertebrates my activities invariably uncover. I am not the only person to notice this as Margie has similar experience in her garden. She further notes that the birds are always present whenever grass cutters are around.

These birds remind me of the Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) that were always around cattle that once roamed freely along our roads. But such a scene is no more, ever since the government long ago issued a veiled threat to round up the cattle, slaughter them and distribute the meat to charity homes.

Javan Mynas are scavengers and never miss an opportunity for a free meal. K.F. Yap reports his observations around Housing and Development Board’s apartment blocks. When cleaners empty the garbage bins each morning, huge flocks gather around. There will always be House Crows (Corvus splendens) too, but these shy birds will station themselves at a safe distance away. Only after the bins have been replaced and the bin-doors closed, and well after the cleaners have gone to the next garbage chute and the mynas have left the scene, will these crows fly in to forage.

Margie Hall adds her observations: “There is (or was for several years until recently, but then I have not made the turning at the same time as a garbage truck in the last few months) a group of five or six Javan Mynas who hang around Yishun Avenue 1 near the junction with Sembawang Road, where there is an extra right hand lane for traffic to wait for the right hand turn. Garbage trucks en route to Senoko regularly drive along Yishun Avenue 1, stopping at the junction in order to wait for the right hand turn. The mynas fly onto the back of the garbage trucks to see what they can find. As the trucks move forward to make the turn, the mynas stay on them. Only when the trucks have done the complete right hand turn and are accelerating on Sembawang Road do the mynas fly off the trucks and fly back to the trees near the waiting lane, to wait for the next truck!”

Jeffrey Low recalls seeing mynas doing something similar to fruit and vegetable trucks along the North-South Highway in Malaysia. They hop on and rummage through the fruits and vegetables until the trucks (presumably) rolls out of their territory or comfort zone before they hop off.

Contributors: K.F. Yap, Margie Hall, Jeffrey Low, S.K. Kwan and R. Subaraj.

Pink-necked Green Pigeons 3 – Sharing of duties

posted in: Nesting | 5

In Pink-necked Green Pigeons both parent birds help in egg incubation and care of the nestlings. The male takes on the day shift, arriving at the nest at around 8 am. He stays in the nest all day, never leaving unless disturbed. The female arrives at around 5 pm and stays in the nest the entire night. Arrivals and departures may be delayed by up to 1.5 hours, especially when the birds detect people around. Like nosy photographers or birdwatchers hidden behind a screen some distance away.

Shift change is the most exciting moment. Usually the bird in the nest becomes slightly excited and moves around a bit when its partner is nearby. Sometimes there is soft gurgling vocalisation from either party. Then suddenly a bird flies in with a distinct flapping of wings to join the other in the nest. The latter moves slightly away to allow the former to sit in the nest before flying off. At times when people are around, the bird may fly in to land on a nearby branch, to move slowly towards the nest as the other bird flies off. Or the bird in the nest may suddenly fly off, the other flying in a few seconds later.

During egg incubation the bird sits quietly in the nest all the time. After the eggs are hatched the parent birds similarly sit quietly but the nestlings are always moving about. Most times the latter would pester the parent in the nest for food. This they do by pecking the parent around the neck area. The parent responds by opening its beak to allow the nestling to poke its beak in to receive the liquid crop milk. During this transfer of food, both necks may twist around somewhat until the transfer is complete. Food transfer occurs at intervals and may again be seen just before the bird leaves the nest. If not, the arriving bird will have to feed the nestlings.

Such a method of feeding allows for the parent birds to remain in the nest all the time, thus providing 24 hours protection to the nestlings. This is sharply contrasted to those birds that need to seek out fruits and insects to feed the nestlings. The nestlings of the Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) are left alone for varying periods of time when the parents are away foraging.

Image shows the male just after arriving and the female just before departing, together with one nestling.

YC Wee
7th December 2005

26 Responses

  1. kris

    I just found a young dollarbird in the garden.. It seems to have left the nest too early and cannot fly yet. How am i to keep and feed it for a few days untill it can fly.???

  2. Iwan

    We have a small pond in our garden surrounded by trees and steep bedrock. The other day we saw a heron flying over and attempting to land – I guess to try to eat our small stock of fish. We managed to frighten it away before it landed, and have since installed trip wires around the pond in order to dissuade the bird. The amount of shelter around the pond means that a heron would have to land practically vertically. Does anyone know whether these birds have the agility to hover and land in this way, or do they always need a “glidepath” in order to land successfully?

  3. Khng Eu Meng

    Today, at the former Bidadari Cemetery, there was a buzz about a sighting of a Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka). I heard some birders say this nightjar isn’t commonly seen in Singapore. After some hunting, we spotted it asleep on a tree branch, some 15 m above ground. This was rather interesting as my previous encounters with nightjars have been on either terra firma or on low branches.

    Is this perching so high up the tree normal or is it unusual? I have posted a photo of it on my Facebook Timeline:

  4. Jess

    Bird Sanctuary At Former Bidadari Cementry

    1)Which is the best spot in Bidadari cemetery for bird watch?

    2)Where this bird usually resident at?

    3)What are some of the rare bird species that can be found at Bidadari?

    4)Where is the particular hot spot for the hornbills, eagles, kingfishers and some of the rare migratory bird?

    5)Which part of Bidadari are richest in it wildlife?

    6)Can you name me the 59 migratory bird species found?

  5. YC

    Why not search the website using the word ‘Bidadari’ to obtain the information you need. There should be sufficient info in past postings to satisfy you.

  6. Firdaus Razak

    Hai, I just want to ask did anybody had an experience bring bird from oversea via MasKargo? Did the bird will stress at high altitude?

  7. Chung Wah

    Hi, I am new to bird photography! Could anyone advise a good pair of binoculars to get for this hobby?

  8. Geam Liang

    I ‘acquired’ a female Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot 5 days ago – was in a public place when the bird flew overhead hit the wall and dropped right in front of me dazed. I picked it up, it appeared unhurt but could not sustain it’s flight. I have since constructed a fairly large ‘cage’ for it, about 4ft x 2fx x 2ft and placed it there last night. I temporarily placed her in a normal bird cage until I had completed the build.
    From what I have read up, it’s a fruit, seed and insect feeder and also nectar, flower buds. It’s doing as well as it can on bananas, papaya, jack-fruit (didn’t touch the grape) and seeds (black and white sunflower and other smaller ones). It loves to bathe so I’ve gotten it a tray and from what I read it’s important to keep things clean as it easily succumbs to infection.
    Does anyone else have any useful experience and sharing on it’s upkeep? I suspect this bird is an escapee – as far as I can read up, it’s not common, if at all, found in Georgetown, Penang where I am. I’m also not optimistic that it can survive if I were to set it free – assuming it can sustain it’s flight and not go crashing down and if there were dogs/cats around that would be the end of it.
    I can attach some pictures but not sure how to do this…

  9. Lee Chiu San

    The blue-crowned hanging parrot, even though very closely related to the lovebirds, is a nectar feeder. You would raise it the way you raise a lorikeet – which is a messy process. And because you are mixing batches of food for just one little bird, whereas I used to do it for about half a dozen pigeon-sized lorikeets each morning, I don’t know how you are going to get the portions down to manageable sizes. Anyway, here goes, with my recipe for feeding big lories. You can adjust the proportions down accordingly for your little bird.

    The staple diet would be a couple of slices of soft fruit (papaya, apple, grapes, even though I am surprised that you said the bird would not eat any) and a mixture of cooked rice sweetened with nectar mix.

    How to make nectar mix? Go to a pharmacy and get a can of food for invalids or infants. I use Complan, but I am sure any good baby formula would do. I usually make up enough to fill a beer mug, but there is no way you need that amount for a day’s feeding. If in doubt, make the mixture thinner, not thicker. Birds cannot digest baby formula that is too thick. If it is too thin, they simply have to consume more to get the required amount of energy. Then to this mug, add half a teaspoonful of rose syrup. Also stir in about a cup of cooked rice, well mashed up.

    In the case of your bird, I suggest that you pour this lot into an ice-cube tray, freeze the mixture, and defrost one cube to feed it each day.

    Now, you said that this bird eats sunflower seeds. This is most unusual for a blue-crowned hanging parrot. Are you sure that this is actually the species you have? Could it be possible that you have actually got a pet lovebird that escaped? There are so many different artificially-created breeds of lovebirds in so many colours that you might have been mistaken.

    If you actually have a lovebird, feeding is much simpler. Just go to the nearest pet shop, buy a packet of budgerigar or cockatiel seed of a reputable international brand, and offer it to the bird. You can supplement this with a couple of slices of fruit each day, and that will be all. Plus of course fresh water and a piece of cuttlefish bone to nibble on.

  10. Lee Chiu San

    About nectar feeding birds. I forgot to add that feeding nectar is messy, and it goes rancid very quickly in our tropical weather. Feeding containers have to be removed and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day. The birds also splatter the mixture and wipe their beaks on perches and the bars of the cage. All my lories and lorikeets used to be housed in outdoor aviaries which were hosed down daily.

    If Geam Liang does not think the bird will survive if released, I really hope that it is a case of mistaken identity, and that you have a lovebird, rather than a blue-crowned hanging parrot. In our part of the world, all available lovebirds are domestically bred, take to captivity readily, and are easy to feed with commercially available seed mixtures. Yes, and being domestic pets, they would not survive if released.

  11. Geam Liang

    Thank you Chiu San for your inputs. Thus far, bananas and papayas work well. I’m not sure why it did not take to grapes – will try again. Am I supposed to peel it? I didn’t the last time, basically skewered a couple of grapes to a satay stick and positioned it as I did for the sliced and skinned papaya and peeled bananas.
    I have yet to try rice and certainly not nectar but will try out your concoction – have half a mind to go to a pet shop to see if they carry nectar for birds. The ice-cube freeze method is a good one, will try that. I might be mistaken on the sunflower seeds… not touched but it did eat the much smaller roundish, mixed colored seeds. Will remove the sunflower seeds.
    I’m sure it’s a female blue crowned hanging parrot.. it sleeps like a bat every night.

  12. Lee Chiu San

    When feeding local birds which are unfamiliar with imported fruits such as grapes, it helps to split the fruits to expose the edible parts. As to your remark that the bird sleeps hanging upside down like a bat, yes, that is the way blue-crowned hanging parrots sleep.

  13. Geam Liang

    Thanks… I need to think like a bird – yup. She has probably not seen a grape much less know that it’s edible, unless the previous owner has fed her with grapes… even then… Today she’s done pretty well making the most of the banana and all of the papaya plus quite a bit of seeds. Will try the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup.
    Will regular honey do instead of rose syrup?

  14. Lee Chiu San

    About making nectar to feed birds. Most aviculturalists do not use honey for two reasons: 1. It is expensive and does not seem to give any added benefits. 2. Honey is made by bees, and the composition varies wildly. Some honeys are also known to cause fungal infection in birds.

    If you do not want to buy a huge bottle of rose syrup just for one tiny bird, there are cheaper alternatives. The first is plain table sugar, though most don’t seem to like it very much.

    What many birds will accept quite readily as a sweetener is condensed milk – the type with sugar that coffee shop owners use.

    Many, many birds have a sweet tooth (or should I say sweet beak?) Besides the usual suspects of lories, lorikeets, sunbirds and hummingbirds, for whom it is an essential part of the diet, nectar mixture is readily consumed by mynahs, leafbirds, fairy bluebirds, barbets, doves, parrots of all kinds, and a whole host of other species.

  15. Geam Liang

    I tried the condensed mild, placed in in a small bottle cap.. only the ants showed interest. Am I supposed to dilute it? I didn’t =( I took you advice and refrained from honey. Have yet to find Rose Syrup from the shelves of TESCO… will try to mix the baby food + mashed rise + rose syrup/sugar syrup this week…

  16. David Thackray

    Can anyone help me identify a bird I saw in Singapore last week. Size of a smakll dove or thrush. Dark metallic back. Grey breast with red throat, chest.

  17. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers

  18. Emily Koh

    Lately I bought a bird feeder which I fill with 4parts water n 1 part white sugar. Sunbirds come regularly to drink and they are really lovely to watch. May I know if it is bad for them to feed on this? Previously they would sometimes pierce and drink from my potted flowers.

  19. Mahadevi Bhuti

    One of best souce for the bird watcher’s enjoying knowledge about ornithology

  20. Martin Nyffeler (PhD)

    Dear Sir / Dear Madame,

    I am a Senior Lecturer in Zoology at a University in Switzerland and I urgently need to get in touch with photographer Chan Yoke Meng, who takes beautiful photographs of birds near Singapore. Would you please mail me the email address of this photographer!


  21. Wee Ming

    Hello Besgroup,

    Trust this email finds you well. We chance upon your photograph on your website and found the amazing image of the Laced Woodpecker and durians. We would like to explore the possibility of getting permission to use them for a new Bird Park in Singapore.

    Spacelogic is a company based in Singapore and we have been contracted by Mandai Park Development to carry out design and build works relating to the exhibition interpretive displays in this new Bird Park.

    Some background of the new Mandai Bird Park project; it will build upon the legacy of the Jurong Bird Park – by retaining and building upon a world-reference bird collection and creating a place of colour and joy for all visitors. The new Bird Park will have a world-reference ornithological collection displayed in a highly immersive way with large walk-through habitats. To enhance visitors’ experience with storyline and narrative of the bird park, transition spaces are added to display exhibits that provide a varied type of fun, intuitive, interactive and educational experiences for all visitors. One of the habitats features the Laced Woodpecker on a flora panel It is in this flora panel that we are seeking your permission to feature the Laced Woodpecker. We are looking to use the first image on the link here.
    Link can be found here:

    We would like to ask if this is something that we can explore further and if yes, how can we go about with putting through a formal permission request. Thank you so much for considering our request and we look forward to hearing from you.

    Warmest Regards,
    Wee Ming
    SPACElogic Pte Ltd

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